Avoid These 4 Conflict Resolution Pitfalls, Create Better Solutions

In the last post we talked about an important skill leaders need to build high-performing teams: facilitating conflict resolution. If you haven’t already read the previous post, take a moment to do so before continuing.


While healthy and productive conflict is good for a team, it is up to the leader to keep the conflict from escalating into the kind of mean spirited, personal attacks that will destroy a team.


In an article from Harvard Business Review, the authors cite a number of “pitfalls” leaders can avoid when facilitating conflict.


They are really on point:

1. Seeing Only One Perspective

Some team members may be so convinced of their “side” that they’re unwilling to be flexible or reach a compromise. Facilitators who have team members who believe only their version is acceptable or “right”, need to encourage them to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.


Power struggles also come into play in a conflict; an apt facilitator will navigate these roadblocks and steer the group towards finding an optimal solution that everyone can support.


2. Seeking Agreement on What Happened

Amy believes “X” happened, while Jim believes “Y” happened; neither is willing to change their minds, participants are focused on assigning blame and it is distracting from finding a new solution.


Don’t dwell on the “what happened”, move on to “what’s next.” Time spent trying to convince another to change their mind about the past is unproductive to moving forward.


3. Being “Fair”

What one person deems “fair” will not always match their colleague. Leaders should focus on resolving conflict by finding win/win/win solutions that all participants can commit to implementing.


If team members start to steer the discussion towards fairness, redirect them towards what is fact and how those facts can create a resolution.


4. Tolerating Threats

Threatening or bullying behavior creates a distrustful and unproductive work environment.


Threats usually happen when a team member feels disempowered or defensive. At that point you may want to consider how you can rebuild trust and enhance interpersonal relationships in your team.


Remind your team members to be respectful and focus on issues and ideas that will solve the conflict, while avoiding blame and personal attacks that will just add more fuel to the fire.


Make A Game Plan

After conflict has been settled, some parties are able to move on more easily than others.


To avoid the same conflict from arising again, have participants set ground rules for how they will approach similar situations in the future.


Could your team benefit from a Team Development Retreat or Quarterly Off-Site to learn how to engage in the kind of healthy, productive conflict that results in improved decision making, innovation and a competitive edge?


We will help you design a customized program to achieve these goals and more.


Schedule a 15-minute conversation to get started.


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